Mary Ann Meha née Campbell

Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi

1926 - 1992

Mary Ann Meha was born in Whangara, was raised in Nuhaka and was educated at Nuhaka Native School and Hukarere Māori Girls’ School in Napier. She completed Māori language courses for School Certificate and University Entrance through correspondence classes. During the war she worked in the construction of munitions in Wellington and in 1946 married Lehi Meha. The couple settled in the Hawkes Bay, lived in Waipawa for ten years and relocated to Ashburton in the South Island in 1965. Meha was part of a training college pilot programme for the first echelon of Māori language teachers. In 1974 she graduated as a Māori language teacher from Christchurch Teachers’ College. She taught Māori at Ashburton College until 1990 when she moved back to Hastings. Meha was very active in the Māori Women’s Welfare League (MWWL) and was area representative for Waipounamu until she moved to the north. She was on the executive of the MWWL and was one of two Māori members on the national council of the Board of Trustees, a position she retained until her death in 1992. Meha was involved, with others, in the establishing of Hakatere Marae in Ashburton. She wrote non-fiction reports, wrote a children’s story for her grandchildren and was interested in writing a fictitious account of her childhood years during the depression when she was one of seven girls who were reared by their father due to the early death of their mother.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence from Rosie Armstrong, 5 and 9 July 1998.


  • Submission to the Women’s Advisory Committee on Education in Relation to the Education of Māori Women. Wellington, N.Z.: Women’s Advisory Committee on Education, 1990]. Wellington, N.Z.: Women’s Advisory Committee on Education, 1990. Report of Survey of Māori Women and Girls Educational Experiences.
  • Leonie Pihama, Tania Ka’ai-Oldman and Mary Ann Meha were contracted as researchers by the Women’s Advisory Committee on Education (WACE) to provide information for a report to the Minister of Education on the specific needs of Māori within a wider study looking at the ‘range of issues and strategies involved in equalising educational opportunities and outcomes for New Zealand girls and women.’ Meha presented her report at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on 8 August 1988.
  • Research Project. [Wellington, N.Z.: Women’s Advisory Committee on Education, 1990]
  • A research document commissioned by the Women’s Advisory Committee of Education (WACE) and completed in 1988 in which Meha interviewed primary, intermediate and secondary school principals, Māori teachers and Māori students. In this comprehensive report Meha summarises the interview questions and responses at each of the schools visited and concludes with a summary and a list of recommendations. The original documents are held in the office of the Secretary of WACE at the Ministry of Education in Wellington, N.Z.
  • Other

  • "Being Māori in Mid Canterbury." Tim Higham. Te Iwi o Aotearoa 19 (Mar 1989): 21-22.
  • This is one of four interviews with Mid-Canterbury Māori personalities in which Te Iwi o Aotearoa discusses with Mary Ann Meha aspects of the Māori community at Hakatere Marae, Mid-Canterbury and her work studying and teaching te reo Māori.
  • Green, Alison and Pania Ellison. "A Description and Discussion of the Research Project of Mary Ann Meha." In Te Mahi Hurapa: Kei Hea Nga Kotiro, Wahine Māori Hoki E Tu Ana I Te Ao Matauranga/Māori Girls And Women In The Education System. Leonie Pihama. Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education, 1991. 30-37.


  • Armstrong, Rosie. "Mary Ann (Campbell) Meha." Women in the Country. Ed. L. Robinson and M. Roy. Martinborough, N.Z.: Affirmative Action, 1986. 36-37.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 1, 21.